Thursday, July 03, 2008

Comments from Belfast...

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This interesting commentary comes from TJ MacLean in Belfast who is a "retired" teacher. His observations about the rise in unruliness in the schools could well translate to what is happening here in North America. What I found most interesting about the referral to evening anger management classes - is that he was the one receiving the referral rather than his unruly students! Check it out. I welcome your comments... especially from teachers - what do you think?
This article can be found at:
Thursday, July 03, 2008
I was not surprised by the recent headline '320 teachers off sick each day' (Belfast Telegraph, June 25).
Speaking as a retired teacher of 30 years experience, forced out of teaching due to stress, I feel that the well-meaning comments of Frank Bunting, northern secretary of the Irish National Teachers' Organisation, and the DUP's Michelle McIlveen fail to pinpoint the main reason for these alarming numbers.
Yes, effective teaching is made difficult by large class sizes, additional administration, new initiatives and so on, but teaching remains bearable and even with these added burdens, good teaching can take place.
This does not hold true when classes are blighted by disruptive behaviour from a small, but vocal, minority.
Today's teachers are expected to face unprecedented levels of classroom indiscipline.
In my experience many teachers, particularly in the secondary school sector, face a daily routine of loud confrontational pupil 'situations'.
The use of violence against teachers is not unknown.
Worryingly, due to the availability of the mobile phone, more and more parents are prepared to arrive unannounced at school, to angrily pursue any teacher who dares to 'pick on', their 'totally innocent' child!
In our 'I know my rights society' there are few effective sanctions that headmasters can use against disruptive pupils.
Remarkably, the Department of Education's answer to rising school indiscipline has been to cut special school provision and merely repeat the mantra that schools need to be all inclusive.
In effect, schools and teachers are very much left on their own to deal with the problems.
Five years ago, as a teacher I faced rising classroom indiscipline, affecting my health. When I sought help, I was laughably offered a place on an evening anger management course.
With management answers like this to a situation where good pupils and their teachers are both suffering, is it any wonder that the average number of sick days that teachers take is rapidly rising?
These figures represent a loud wake up call to the Department of Education to come up with effective measures that will protect the rights of teachers to teach and pupils who want to learn, thus cutting to a minimum days lost due to teacher sickness.
T J McClean